The average family of four spends about $125 per week on groceries. But that number will skyrocket this month due to all the entertaining that goes on during the holiday season.

So whether you’ve got a big family, or a lot of entertaining to do, now’s a good time to slice a few bucks off your grocery bill.

It’s hard to throw a party for 40 people and not throw your food budget out of whack, but here are some easy things you can do that could shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off your food bill each year.

“Let’s get a big bunch of bananas,” says Lisa Horcher.

When you have six kids, a husband and a dog, grocery shopping takes a lot of time.

“Let’s look at my list and see what I need next,” Lisa says.

And money.

“I see our tomato soup here on the end aisle. Let me get six of these,” Lisa says.

Lisa estimates she spends as much as $400 per week feeding her family. Although she’s careful with her food budget, keeping up with the weekly menu planning and entertaining a large extended family has taken its toll.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been cooking with a lot of convenience items and sometimes I spend a little more on groceries because it’s something easy and something that’s quick to do,” Lisa says.

Most of her food budget is spent on buying cereal.

“The Jewel cereal is 10 boxes for $10, so we can stock up a bit,” Lisa says.

About 8 gallons of milk a week.

“I will get it. I will get it,” Mary Horcher says.

And fresh produce.

“I also like to feed them as healthy as I can too. So I prefer to buy the better pieces of meat and leaner chicken,” Lisa says.

“Lisa is a typical consumer. She’s a busy mom, she’s strapped for resources, she’s strapped for time and she’s trying to stretch her dollars at the holidays,” says Melissa Rabin,

The good news is there are some things Lisa can do that will help save her money, even if it makes her life a little less convenient.

Convenience foods can be really expensive. This product costs $2.99 without a coupon. But if you take all the individual pieces, the soda, the ham, the cheese and the crackers, you could put it together yourself and save about half.

Clipping coupons is also important.

“One thing she should be thinking about is getting the Sunday paper, clipping those coupons. Or, going on the internet, which is another great way to find coupons,” Rabin says.

Sites like and even manufacturers sites offer coupons, plus recipes and other ideas on saving money. You can print out the coupons at home and then take them to the store. Another way to save money is to shop when the store is less crowded. And buying in bulk from a warehouse club can help. Lisa recently joined Costco.

“I did one big shop there and instead of having enough groceries for one week, I have enough for 3, but spent the same amount of money,” Lisa says.

“Try not to go to the grocery store when you’re hungry and make sure when you are there, you’re with your list. 40 percent of people tend to buy more when they don’t have a list,” Rabin says.

Even if you only save $10 a week, that’s an extra $520 in your pocket at the end of the year.

In the past few months, some grocery stores have discovered that online coupons consumers in were actually fradulent. Because of that, some grocery stores have stopped accepting internet coupons. Be sure you contact your grocery store ahead of time so you’re not disappointed when you get to the checkout aisle.

Dec. 26, 2003.